the view through the windshield car blog

Remembering Aunt Ceil

My godmother and favorite aunt died in 1954 at the young age of 38. She suffered many health problems in her lifetime and endured a lot of pain especially in her final battle with breast cancer but always had a smile and a kind word for me. And others.

She was a generous woman and my best presents - toys, books, etc. - came from Aunt Ceil.

She worked for a fur broker. The firm handled shipments from all over the world. Most were mailed by trappers and were sent by parcel post. Like many kids in my day, I collected stamps. My aunt provided me with many exotic issues from far-away lands. My friends were sure envious.

The fur business had a big warehouse and the storage carts and pallet jacks became my personal playground on many Saturday mornings while my aunt finished up paperwork. There was also a big Rube-Goldberg machine - a letter-folder and envelope stuffer - in the office which one could load and watch the paper zip through and get folded. And - sometimes - get spectacularly mangled and destroyed by the belts and pulleys. I was fascinated by it.

Aunt Ceil owned a green 1949 Chevrolet which was driven carefully and garaged every night.

Ceil was loved by those who knew her. There were so many floral arrangements at her funeral that the undertaker had to order up a flower car from the livery service. I've mentioned before that my first ride in a Cadillac was during her funeral when I was 11. We traveled to the church and the cemetery in a limousine - a sleek-black '54 Caddy Series 75. I rode in the collapsible jump seat. I remember getting yelled at by my parents for playing with the power window switches and running the windows up and down on a cold, windy December day.

My aunt owned a mahogany drop-front secretary desk-bookcase, topped with a carved crown Chippendale-style bonnet. In the early 1980s, I set out to restore it. I spent many evenings sanding and steel-wooling the solid wood surfaces until they were silk-smooth. Then I carefully applied stain, worked it in with 0000 steel wool and reapplied more stain, working that in - repeating the process until the depth of grain of this fine wood specimen could be fully appreciated.

I think Ceil would have liked the result. This piece of furniture, made in the mid-1930s, will outlive me. And, with a little TLC, it will outlive my children too.

Aunt Ceil has now been dead far longer than she was alive. God rest her kind, gentle soul. (posted 12/12/14)

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